Monday 27 March 2023

A MATTER OF FAITH by Judith Arnopp @JudithArnopp #TuesdayBookBlog

 5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: have been looking forward to it since reading the previous episode!

In a Nutshell: Henry VIII - the Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour years

I zipped through this in two days.  Judith Arnopp's writing flows with such ease; when starting one of her books, I inevitably look up and wonder how come it's 2 in the morning and I'm already a third of the way through!

In this episode of Henry VIII's life, he has just married Anne Boleyn and is still, after 5 years, obsessively in love with her.  His version of love, at least; when she fails to produce a son and heir, and forgets to be her beautiful, charming best after giving birth/experiencing a devastating miscarriage, he begins to inch away.  Into the arms of Jane Seymour he falls - this time his 'love' only lasts a year or so, when he begins to see her as dull, frigid and uninteresting, rather than delightfully quiet and biddable.  Though she does produce the required prince, so after she dies (a fortnight after the birth), he fancies that he did love her, after all.

The way in which Ms Arnopp has written Henry in this phase of his life is so very clever.  The boy who lost his mother at such a young age, always aware that in his father's eyes he would always be the spare, rather than the heir.  As can so often happen, childhood insecurity becomes self-absorption in maturity; he searches constantly for confirmation of his popularity, his talents, his virility, his strength and, of course, his desirability.  Rarely if ever does he consider the feelings or needs of others; they are of no consequence.

The book is written in the first person, and Henry comes across as childlike at almost all times.  When his health and looks are ruined by his own self-indulgence, a ghastly leg injury and the ageing process, when his appeal to his subjects is greatly hampered by his brutal decisions, when those who loved him are no more (at least half of them by his own hand), he kicks out and hurts those around him.  The way in which he scarcely mentions some key events was, I thought, so artfully executed; if a circumstance does not affect him directly, so it remains on the shadowy periphery of his orbit.  Even the deaths of Robert Aske and his cohorts gain little mention; always Henry can justify his own actions.

This is not a long book and now and again I would have liked a little more detail like, for instance, how he was affected by the death of Thomas More, but, then again, one cannot fail to notice that the most devastating events (such as the murder of Anne and his men) are skimmed over the most quickly of all.  As though he cannot even bear to think about them, so pushes them out.  Now and again there is insight into his own pain - it was not just Katharine and Anne who lost all those children.  Each time, was he sent straight back to the pain of losing his little sister, Elizabeth, as well as his mother?  Were the murders of Anne, George, Norris, Brereton, Weston and Smeaton more than he could bear?  

This is not just another account of the Boleyn/Seymour years, but a rare insight into the mind of the man who made it all happen. A round of applause, and I can't wait to read the next instalment!

Tuesday 21 March 2023

THE NEW ABNORMAL by Aaron Kheriaty #TuesdayBookBlog

 4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: recommendation

In a Nutshell: 'Dr. Kheriaty documents how technocrats abused power they never should have been granted and terrified people into surrendering their freedoms. The results of this malfeasance are ongoing. Fortunately, Kheriaty provides indispensable guidance for stopping an emerging biomedical security state from doing even more damage in the future.'

Aaron Kheriaty was a practitioner in California when he first began to suspect that something didn't quite ring true about the version of the pandemic that was being broadcast to the population.  The work is highly detailed, and every paper or source to which he refers is listed in the last 30% of the book.  He uncovers the way in which certain language was used to ramp up the fear, how citizens were encouraged to inform on each other for so-called misdemeanours, how those who wished to exercise their right to informed consent before considering taking the injections were demonised, and, most worrying of all, how anyone in the medical profession who was brave enough to say 'something isn't right' paid dearly for doing so.

He also uncovers the true extent and severity of the virus itself, the efficacy of the injections, how the extent of vaccine injury is being kept under wraps, including the truth about ADE (antibody dependent enhancement) that I read so much about when the shots were first rolled out.  He gives information about who does most of the funding for the WHO (no surprises there) and how the tools used to promote the new religion of 'Scientism' are the same deployed by totalitarian systems.  Kheriaty talks about what's to come and how it can be resisted.  The second half of the book goes too much into philosophy generally, I thought, and was a tad idealistic, but that was the only aspect I was not so sure about.

This is worth buying for the epilogue alone - a story written in the second person about 'you' in the year 2030 - a high level Microsoft employee who loves his biometric sensors that give his 'Social Responsibility Score' to anyone who needs to know it, that monitor his mood, physical exertion, every movement, suggest medication, dietary improvements, etc etc.  At first life seems all fine and dandy, but gradually the cracks start to show ... it's not without humour and is a real gem!

I highlighted loads of passages and could have written pages about this book, but I decided a basic overview would probably be more effective.  If you have any interested in the subjects outlined, I highly recommend this.

Tuesday 7 March 2023

THE DEVIL HIMSELF by Steven Duggan

 4.5 out of 5 stars

On Amazon (universal link)
On Goodreads

How I discovered this book: Amazon browse

In a Nutshell: Man unjustly accused of murder seeks to clear his name.  Set in Ireland.

Jack Finch was accused of a murder he didn't commit, and sent to prison for eight years after taking a plea deal.  While he's away, his wife divorces him and marries his elder brother.  Jack knows that going back to the small town where the murder took place is not the wisest move, but he cares more about clearing his name than about the reception he will have to endure.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book, loved the writing style, and I liked Jack very much, which always helps.  There is much description about life in prison, a stark portrayal of the desperation and fear that an inmate can go through, the total despair.  

I'd seen in reviews that the ending is particularly good, and I echo this, wholeheartedly - I thought I'd guessed the twist early on, but I was so, so wrong - especially as it's a double twist.  It's (they're) so well done; a round of applause well earned.  Made me want to flick back to see if I could spot any clues.  I liked how the second one hinted at what happened without actually giving all the details; this worked so well.  

I've taken a half star off because of one issue - the proofreading.  I spotted the odd wrong word and incorrect punctuation mark, but mostly it was the excessive use of exclamation marks in dialogue that kept making me wince; the vast majority were not needed and should have been removed.  Aside from that, though, it was great.  Excellent plot, a great main character, and the sort of writing style that keeps the pages turning.